So much of the art scene in downtown Philadelphia comes nearly to a halt during the late summer months, as residents scatter throughout the tri-state area to the New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland beaches. However, the contemplation of and dedication to craft is alive and well in Olde City Philadelphia’s The Clay Studio. Last Friday, The Ninth Annual Marge Brown Kalodner Graduate Student Exhibition opened to a gallery full of avid art viewers.
Margaret Dubler’s Frame (State University of New York at New Paltz: Ceramic, Zip-ties, 2012) is an installation occupying much of the gallery space’s back room. At first sight, one could almost believe that they are walking into an illusion. Dubler’s use of ceramic linear rectangles to delineate the framing of space is subtle, yet the scale of the piece demands one to literally “walk through the door” of negative spaces. One could easily mistake this install to be fabricated of cast steel rods with white enamel that have been produced industrially for the purpose of holding what one may deem as “precious art” – instead of the white lines/rectangles forming the artistic fabric of the installation itself. Conversely, the artist could be parodying the artworld’s adage of the “white box” – how an individual feels when entering into a gallery space that rarely, if ever, has any color on the walls except white, and using that metaphor in her materials of ceramic being parlayed as metal.
Jackie Laurita’s Rainbow (Cranbrook Academy of Art, MI: Porcelain, Silk, 15″ x 12″ x .5″, 2011) is a stunningly beautiful piece that traverses the lines between wall piece, relief, or body ornament. The consistency of her shapes, both the small tubes placed alongside the cascading quills of pigmented porcelain, communicates a finely-tuned rhythm with which Laurita uses to weave her elements together. Who would believe this is predominantly porcelain and not a fiber piece upon first look? It is quite masterful how Laurita ornaments the walls of the gallery by secretly luring one into thinking that this dramatic piece is meant to be a sculpture – vs. a wearable object for one to indulge themselves.
Erik Wilhelmsen’s The Airy Sky Has Taken Its Place (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth: Earthenware, Glaze, Paper, 32″ x 40″ x 7″, 2012) seemingly may be inspired by or titled after a line from the “Vermeer” poem – written by the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature winner and Swedish poet, Tomas Tranströmer. Wilhelmsen approaches this work in a very abstract painterly way – similar to a Rothko or de Kooning painting that is instead a multi-dimensional ceramic vessel. The drips of the glaze as they run downward can’t help but remind one of the abstract expressionists of the early twentieth century. The intimidating scale of this vessel and the texturing of the “skin” of the handbuilt earthenware is countered by the more intimate, narrow mouth (opening) of the piece.
The Ninth Annual Marge Brown Kalodner Graduate Student Exhibition can be viewed through August 12th, 2012 at The Clay Studio located at 137-139 North 2nd Street in downtown Philadelphia, PA.
(Images courtesy of The Clay Studio, Philadelphia.)